Less than a month after advising that all combat sports should be postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Association of Ringside Physicians is relaxing its stance.
On Saturday, the ARP released a statement that is more agreeable with combat sports resuming — as long as added precautions are taken.
The ARP is the body that provides education, training and certification for ringside physicians around the world. On April 6, the ARP recommended that “all combat sporting events be postponed until further notice.”
Sports leagues are discussing resuming operations in the relatively near future, and some state stay-at-home orders have been relaxed across the United States. The UFC will hold its first event since March 14 next Saturday in Jacksonville, Florida, under the full regulation of the Florida State Boxing Commission with added safety requirements for all parties involved.
After that, the UFC has two more events scheduled in Jacksonville — Florida has deemed pro sports an essential business — on May 13 and May 16. The ARP advises that any event organizers should consult with public health officials and experts.
“Although it is impossible to eliminate all risk of COVID19, precautions can be made to reduce the risk of viral transmission,” the ARP statement read. “Many athletic commissions, organizations and promotions are developing new guidelines to limit exposure to all involved at events, including athletes, their teams, commission personnel and support staff.
“Combat sports event procedures regarding COVID19 precautions should be actively developed, regularly reviewed and modified based on the evolving knowledge and scientific evidence put forth by public health authorities. These guidelines should also involve local and regional public health officials as well as infectious disease experts and epidemiologists.”
Sources said some state athletic commissions are in the process of developing new regulations related to COVID-19, including a requirement for athletes and support personnel to be tested for the coronavirus prior to events.
An email sent earlier this week from the UFC to athletes competing next Saturday stated that fighters and licensed corner people will be medically screened when they arrive at the host hotel in Jacksonville. There will be further screening throughout the week, fighters will have individual workout rooms, and the hotel cleaning staff will be equipped with high-grade sanitizer.